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How can leaders enable employees to talk about organizational problems so they can be addressed? How can employees be encouraged to challenge conventional thinking and offer new ideas so teams can remain agile and innovative? And in an age of employee activism, how can leaders ensure that people of diverse backgrounds and value systems can work well together?

According to Megan Reitz, professor of leadership and dialogue at Ashridge Executive Education at Hult Business School, leaders must create psychologically safe environments where people feel it is safe to speak up without fear of retribution.

An executive coach, researcher and author of the book “Speak Up: Say What Needs to be Said and Hear What Needs to be Heard” (Financial Times Publishing, July 2019), Reitz helps leaders become more aware of their “conversational habits” – what they speak up about and what they don’t and whose voices they listen to and whose they discount.

Through a deeper understanding of power dynamics, leaders are able to spot how and when they (often inadvertently) silence others. They become more able to create a culture where employees can safely and openly share ideas. As a result, leaders get the feedback they need about what’s really happening in their organizations and teams end up communicating, collaborating and innovating more effectively.

“It takes courage to speak your mind to a person in power,” says Reitz. “But equally, if you are the person in power, it takes enormous humility and skill to be able to invite, then listen.” Her enlightening TEDxHultAshridge talk, “How Your Power Silences Truth,” artfully explains how leaders can strike a balance between guiding and being guided by the people they oversee. Her practical frameworks for promoting psychological safety help organizations address issues around trust, ethics, diversity, equity and inclusion, and communication – especially in remote or hybrid workplaces where many cues can get lost.


Ranked among HR Magazine’s Most Influential Thinkers and author of “Mind Time: How Ten Mindful Minutes Can Enhance Your Work, Health and Happiness” (Harper Thorsons, 2018), Reitz’s research also explores the neuroscience of leadership and the links between mindfulness and leadership capacities for the 21st century.

Her work is particularly urgent right now as remote and hybrid work settings require leaders to be more proactive about listening to employees and inviting in their thoughts. Her win-win approach allows organizations to learn what employees are thinking and where problems may be hidden, while offering employees the comfort of working for a leader who is more relatable, approachable and open-minded.

What Leaders Gain When Employees Speak Up was last modified: January 4th, 2024 by Whitney Jennings